Remember what I said about Samsung's strategy to introduce their own operating system separate from Google's android? How they're ultimately shooting to rely on something that isn't android as a means of better controlling their ecosystem, software updates, and allow the company to differentiate their phones and (failed) tablets? Read on, my friends. From a position of strength I state my opinions, and once again it paid off.
"Highly Confidential" Samsung documents that have surfaced this week during the Apple vs Samsung trial detail that in September 2011, Samsung identified three primary enemies to its future goals.
The first, Apple, was described as "aggressively growing share," leaving Samsung to note that "future success is dependent on blunting Apple."
This harmonizes with the "Beat Apple" memo where Samsung called the "threat from Apple extremely real and urgent," concluding that "Beating Apple is #1 Priority" and that "everything must be context of beating Apple."
Samsung's second target was HTC, ostensibly a "partner" that shared Samsung's collective Android market share in the reports filed by various marketing groups. Samsung described HTC as a "key challenge."
But instead of targeting HTC at a high level and competing through innovation, Samsung aimed at beating HTC "at their own game," specifically in delivering cheap, low end devices Samsung referred to as "carrier friendly good enough" phones.
The third enemy Samsung identified was itself. "Samsung has experienced significant product delays" the company observed, referencing "over 1 million expected S/P sell-thru lost in both 2Q and 3Q," and "almost 70 S/P sell-thru weeks already lost in 4Q."
Despite spending lots of money on advertising, Samsung observed that its "Galaxy brand [is] too weak to create sufficient 'pull' and sustain S-P sales," and complained of "insufficient sales and brand ROI achieved with channel-dominant marketing spend."
Now that we have context, we can get to the really compelling stuff -- stuff I have been saying for so long.
Another problem Samsung identified for itself was its chronic inability to deliver major Android software updates or even regular Maintenance Releases. This was complicated by Samsung's broad product range.
Samsung also referenced Google's Android Update Alliance, a "Google IO commitment" it and other Android licensees made in 2011 to deliver regular software updates for new phones for at least 18 months in response to growing criticism.
It turned out that none of them could keep their promise. By the end of 2012, Ars Technica observedthat Google's Android Update Alliance program "resulted in exactly zero improvements to update timeliness."
Samsung was finding it harder to keep up with Google's Android updates than Motorola or HTC, lagging updates to Froyo by nearly a year and continuing to remain behind with Gingerbread. Samsung continues to ship Android phones with outdated, vulnerable versions of Android today. In fact, such low end, "carrier friendly good enough" models like the Galaxy Y make up the majority of Samsung phone volumes.
I think this fact often goes forgotten. When I say that android is the new feature phone OS, I mean it -- and this supports that in a significant way. Finally, the most compelling stuff, the stuff I've been saying for ages and ages regarding this entire mobile battlefield --
Cognizant of that, Samsung also identified a fourth competitor. In late 2011, Samsung had already set its sights on challenging Google in an effort to establish "The 3RD Platform."
Samsung noted that, while "this won't be easy," it believed it could "influence a 3rd mobile OS platform viability and scale by driving volume aggressively," noting that "what matters most in adoption" was "market penetration."
"Market share drives ecosystem scale," Samsung charted, correlating smartphone platform market share with "number of apps added to app store."
With its smartphones running Tizen, Samsung wouldn't have to share its ecosystem with HTC, making it easier to compete against it and other former comrades formerly affiliated under Google's Android banner.
Welp, there you have it. Called it. But one last bonus bit of information to tie it all together --
If Samsung can successfully replace Android with its own Tizen as its executives have since publicly outlined as a goal, it would leave Google tied to a series of hardware partners that are collectively losing lots of money. That explains why Google attempted to establish Motorola Mobility as an Android hardware maker under its own control, at least until it became obvious that the strategy wasn't working.
That's some sobering reality that is common knowledge to me, worrisome knowledge to people who didn't accept it before. Welcome to the real world, again (and again, and again, and again...). One day I will be surprised, this is not that day.